Nepal on guard against human trafficking

Anil Giri   |  Kathmandu


 Nepal has banned child adoption in the country in an effort to curb human trafficking, especially of girl children who are at risk of falling victim to traffickers, in the wake of the April 25 earthquake that claimed thousands of lives and left a huge section of the population homeless.

"Children are at high risk of becoming trafficking victims during disaster as they can be lured by traffickers with the prospect of comfortable life and better education. So we have banned child adoption for now," Radhika Aryal, joint secretary at the ministry of women, children and social welfare (MoWCSW), said on Thursday.

The ban applies to both international and local child adoption.

According to Aryal, 59 children have been rescued from human traffickers in the last 30 days. "These children are now in child welfare shelters and cases have been filed against the perpetrators," she said.

To put a stop to child trafficking, the government has made it mandatory for children travelling without their parents to have permission letters from their district child welfare association, district administration or the village development committee.

Security forces in the border areas have also been ordered to remain vigilant. "Since the local administrations are focused on rescue and relief works, we need security forces to remain alert at this time," said Kiran Rupakhetee, chief of the children welfare department at the MoWCSW.

After coming across several cases of displaced families migrating to India, women and child rights organisation Maiti Nepal has expressed concern over the increased risk of trafficking of women and children.

"Maiti Nepal is concerned that this trend puts women and children at high risk," the non-governmental organisation said in a statement.

According to the surveillance centres operated by Maiti Nepal along the border with India in Ilam, Kailali, Kanchanpur, Banke, Nawalparasi and Rupandehi districts, 133 Nepali families have migrated to India after the 7.9-magnitude earthquake rattled 39 of the mountainous nation's 75 districts.

The voluntary organisation said the Indian embassy in Nepal maintains records of all its citizens working in the country and pays special attention to their safety, but the Nepali embassy in India maintains no such record.

"It is illegitimate of the government to stay idle when its citizens are forced to relocate due to the earthquake," the NGO said, adding that in the absence of economic opportunities in Nepal, women and children are vulnerable to sexual violence and trafficking. - IANS